Tendonopathy, Tendonitis and Tendonosis

Tendonopathy, Tendonitis, Tendonosis.  Three frequently used buzz words in the
sports medicine community, but what do they all mean, and how do they affect
your care in Physical Therapy?  This post
will define these three terms, and address what they mean when they come to
healing and returning to your sport of choice.
Tendon: A connective tissue that connects muscle and
bone.  The most common tendon issues come
in the shoulder  – also known as
“throwers shoulder” ; the knee  –
commonly known as “jumpers knee” ; the elbow – known as tennis and golfers
elbow; and the ankle – known as Achilles tendonitis.  It is important to note, however, that
tendons exist throughout our bodies and these injuries can happen to any of
Tendonopathy is an umbrella term to cover any problem with a
tendon of the body.
Tendonitis – is the first onset of pain in a tendon.  It is often noted to be swollen, painful
with, and without activity and  painful
to touch.  This typically lasts 3-7
Tendonosis – is a more long standing issue with the
tendon.  This can follow a tendonitis
condition and is often related to pain at the start of activity, and after
activity is completed.  It is important
to note that after the tendon is “warmed up” the pain may often go away.
Initial treatment for both tendonitis and tendonosis should
follow the RICE principle:
R – Rest – This rarely means complete stopping of you
activity, but it is important to note that your tendon is not able to withstand
the workload you have been placing on it, and that is why it is injured.  We need to rest the painful area relative to
the workload that injured it in the first place.  In the case of a runner, for instance,
decreasing mileage for a period of 1-2 weeks may be sufficient.
I – Ice – The injured body part will benefit from the
anti-inflammatory and the pain relief benefits of ice.  Typically, 10-15 minutes of ice several times
a day is sufficient.
C- Compression – when convenient, gentle compression with an
ace bandage or supportive elastic brace will provide pain relief for the
injured tendon.
E – Elevation – combined with ice, elevation will provide
relief of any swelling or fluid that may build up in the injured area,
particularly if it is the knee or the ankle that is sore.  
If the initial 1-2 weeks of self-treatment with these
recommendations is not successful, it is recommended that you contact a health
care provider, as your injury may be significant enough to require additional
treatment, therapy, or exercise prescription.